We awoke to a varied and beautifully presented Double Tree breakfast; including homemade granola and all the sausage and bacon my youngest could eat (you should see how wide her eyes got when the meat was in sight!). My older daughter preferred to explore the wonders of maple syrup on everything she ate. I was a nicer and happier person than I had been in days with a happy tummy and not sweating my way through breakfast.
We soon took a taxi to the Lincoln Memorial and wondered at the gigantic statue, which I will admit did not have the same majesty after Night at the Museum. However his speeches on the wall, particularly his second inauguration speech, resonated with me and were surprisingly relevant. Lincoln’s writing holds an intelligence and poetry, I don’t think a president has matched since.
Then began a very long and hot walk to the Natural History Museum with a quick stop for a cool off in the World War II memorial. The girls and I waded into the huge water fountain, along with several other tourists until I saw a sign that said, “please respect our veterans by not wading in the monument.” I quickly got the kids out, but upon further reflection remembering the one WWII vet I knew, my great uncle, would have happily told us kiddos to cool ourselves off in his memorial.
All of us except Sade had been to the Natural History Museum in New York and the Field Museum in Chicago, so we knew what to expect but enjoyed the different exhibits. My oldest was perplexed and perhaps disturbed by the exhibit on evolution. I think most of us struggled with hearing we’re related to apes. After being there for several hours, Patience called. The family that was supposed to join us the day before and spend the night had shown up at 2pm the next day. Now knowing their lack of navigational skills, we went all the way back through the museum to find the group in the front. We were greeted with warm hugs from Patience, who was genuinely happy to see us. I noticed their two girls had a huge bag with chips in it, when the sign as we came in had clearly said no food in the building and our bags had been searched, but I just shook my head. I wanted to get back to where we had been by the African animals exhibit, so somehow in my push onwards I found myself with all four girls and no other adults. Slightly irritated, I had all of us sit down while we waited for everybody to catch up.
Shortly after we sat down, their 9 year old held up a canvas bag and said, “It’s leaking.” My eyes grew wide and dread filled my voice as I asked, “What is in that bag?”
I tried to take deep breaths and count to ten as I rhetorically asked, “You brought an entire box of popsicles on 40 minute train ride and then on a walk in 100 degree heat and brought them into the Natural History Museum?”
Around this time the rest of the group finally caught up and I brought them up to speed on the situation, but only I seemed about to have a slight panic attack as I imagined guards escorting me from the premises with instructions to never return. Patience’s replied, “I told you it probably wasn’t a good idea to bring the popsicles.” I bit down on my tongue hard as I wanted to shout, “Then why didn’t you tell them NOOOOOO!!!!!!” Somehow it then fell on me to walk all four girls across the entire museum to find a bathroom with a trashcan where we could dispose of the mess. I took the opportunity to have my girls use the bathroom and came out to find Patience’s girls downing all the popsicles as fast as they could, instead of just throwing them away, as juice dripped everywhere. I made everyone wash up thoroughly before we went back and finished our visit.
Next up was a trek to the White House, that I’ll admit looked daunting with the heat and my ankle recovering from a sprain with bruises still all around my ankle and toes. Siye swore he knew the way, but just in case I made Wole figure out the basic directions first. Siye quickly walked way ahead of us all, while Patience who did not have a twisted ankle, stopped every few feet to sit down. Siye made several wrong turns, but luckily we only followed him down one, and in about half an hour we finally found the White House! I will admit it was slightly underwhelming and smaller than I thought it would be, but it was still cool because it was the nearest I had ever been to Obama. We took lots of pictures, minus Siye and Patience who sat on a bench the whole time and never even came over to look at the White House.
We were then ready for dinner and asked Siye if he would be joining us. Nope, after all of four hours in D.C., the first time for Patience and their girls, on what was supposed to be a two day overnight trip, they were going home. Wole diplomatically informed them we were spending another night in D.C., because there was “just so much to see.” We had another great crab dinner, this time a crab leg bake, although Sade cutely observed, “I haven’t decided if the work is worth the meat yet.” We did Sprinkles cupcakes afterwards and I greatly enjoyed my marshmallow filled cupcake.
The next day it was time for the National Geographic Museum and an exhibit on the Indiana Jones movies and the real life archaeological finds that related to them. I am slightly obsessed with these movies, particularly Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In high school my best friend and I got ahold of all three movies and watched them in one day to our great delight. At the exhibit we were given tablets and everywhere there were artifacts with numbers to punch in that would bring up audio and video information. We made it almost through the third movie when we were on overload and in serious need of some lunch.
That was fine with me, since I don’t count the fourth movie anyway. Aliens indeed. I like my Indiana steeped in religious legends, you know, fact! After lunch we checked out the Monster Fish exhibit, which had lots of great interactive games and activities for the kids.
It was then time to go back to Siye’s house. We took the train again, where somehow Siye could not find us in the main pick up zone and we had to go find him in the garage. Immediately after dropping us off at the house, Siye and Patience took off, leaving us in the hot house with all the kids. Their 13 year old did a good job of making pounded yam and sauce and we did our best to fight off the oppressive heat, but as the night got later and later, I got more and more concerned and restless. I suggested taking their other car out to get the kids on a trip for ice cream, but Wole smartly pointed out with everything else we had seen it was likely the car was unregistered. We fought the good fight to try and keep the kids off the tablet and when 11pm rolled around, we sent their kids, who had school the next day, off to bed. Later I found them in their beds playing with their tablets, but hey we tried. Siye finally turned up at 1am with fans like I had asked them to pick up. But instead of big box fans, they came back with fans that at full capacity put out as much air as me taking a deep breath.
At 6:30am we were awakened to loud banging on our door. Wole went to the door with a look on his face that I’m sure caused him at least a few wrinkles. It was Patience telling us she was taking Sade with her and Siye to go shopping. Wole later mumbled, “You couldn’t just leave a note…” We woke up to find the barest dribble of milk to go with cereal and hot rice none of us had any interest in. We made it through, until the next disaster struck. Wole came running down from the shower, a handle in one hand and the phone in his other as he tried to search for the water shut off. We never did find it, but together we did manage to get the bath water to stop running. Later we ordered pizza and packed and finally at 2pm (right when we needed to leave for the airport) Siye, Patience, and Sade returned. Up until this point, I had at least been grateful they had taken Sade shopping, as shopping was an arduous process with my four year old running in between racks and jumping off of chairs. Sade had a canvas shopping bag full of purchases, but Wole and I thought it would be better to fit them into our suitcases for the flight. As Sade started to move the purchases over to our suitcases I counted about five hand bags and pairs of huge heels, which surprised me as Sade had already purchased a couple hand bags and shoes before we took this trip. “Dear, how many handbags and shoes do you need?” I exclaimed.
My heart sank to my toes when I heard, “Oh, these aren’t for me.” The gears instantly clicked into place. Patience had taken Sade alone, so she could load her down with things to transport to Nigeria without any interference from Wole or me. And instead of being courteous and sending small items, she had woken my sister at the crack of dawn and expected her to find room for bags as big as suitcases themselves. “Wole, we need to get in the car now,” I said fighting to keep my promise to behave. I grudgingly thanked Patience for letting us stay and made it to the airport without incident. And with that the trip was finally over.
The D.C. part of the trip had been fantastic and I was able to find the silver lining in the rest of the trip. Often on vacation, I want to rush everywhere, Wole wants to relax, and we’re almost never on the same page. This trip we bonded over the craziness we were experiencing with late night talks, squeezed hands that communicated more than words, and experiences our daughters will never forget. Sometimes the most uncomfortable situations cause the most laughs and the best shared stories!